Welcome back to our Meet the Baristas Series, where we introduce you to the NOC baristas that serve up the best brews at each of our locations.
This month, we chat with Bertha and Tsz Wing, Head Baristas at the Roastery.
Q. What’s the best part of your job?
Bertha: For me, it’s being able to connect with customers and my team through coffee. I really enjoy sharing my favourite recipes and tips on different brewing methods, and practicing coffee skills with my team. It makes our day when customers come up to us and tell us that they really enjoyed the coffee we brewed for them.
Tsz Wing: The best part is that I get to do what I love every day. Having a job that I love is definitely a privilege, and I am grateful for the friendly work environment which I share with like-minded, passionate individuals.
Q. Why did you decide to make coffee your career?
B: I became intrigued by coffee and tea when I was interning at a hotel. With the intention to learn more, I sent my resume to a tea parlour and a coffee shop when my internship ended. Eventually, the coffee shop contacted me first and I have been a barista ever since. As I learned coffee skills at work, I noticed that every little detail in a recipe can change the final cup of coffee you end up with – that’s what draws me towards coffee.
T: I started my career in coffee when I was 20. I was curious about the coffee industry – so much so that I decided to make a career out of brewing coffee. I like how coffee shops offer everyone a resting place that allows everyone to enjoy a moment of calm before they go off to do whatever’s next on their schedules.
Q. How do you train your baristas in the NOC-method?
B: When I go into training sessions with baristas who are new to the industry, I usually start by going through fundamental housekeeping skills behind the coffee bar. I think it is important that I ensure everyone understands and follows the coffee hygiene house rules from day one: after all, the baristas’ attention to detail will affect the coffees that our customers drink, the environment in which they enjoy their coffees and in the end, customers’ perception on NOC as a coffee shop and a brand.
T: Training new baristas is surprisingly similar to making a cup of coffee. For instance, water temperature, grind amount and milk temperature of a coffee can all alter the flavours of the finished product. In order for us to help a new barista learn her/his trade, it will take our barista skills, communication skills, time, patience and a lot of practice sessions. We hope that each and every customer that walks into our space experiences the best of NOC: that’s why we work extra hard to train each and every barista on our team.
Q. What experience do you want to create for NOC customers?
B: I strive to create a space for customers to focus on enjoying their cup of coffee without unnecessary distractions. If customers are up for it, I also hope that the Roastery can be a place for them to gain more understanding on the cup of coffee they are drinking.
T: When customers step into the Roastery, they are immediately greeted with the sight and smell of coffee being roasted and brewed. In my opinion, this is definitely our niche: we have the environment and equipment to bring customers closer to their cup of coffee, and to offer them a multisensory coffee experience.
Q. What’s your favourite brewing method?
B: My favourite is pourover. The brewing method requires very simple tools, and depending on the recipe, it can take us as short as 3 minutes to brew a cup of pourover coffee. What I love about the brewing method is the amount of control the barista has on the taste of the coffee: with a slight adjustment in the grind size, water temperature or the pour, you can end up with a very different cup of coffee.
T: I am most interested in espresso and latte art. Aside from the flavour and aroma of coffee, well-executed latte art is like the icing on the cake: it is definitely an art that pleases the eye and helps enhance the multi-sensory coffee experience for our customers. It takes time and practice to master different latte art styles designs – free pour and etching, to name a few – which is why it is so challenging and exciting for me.
Q. What does NOC mean to you?
B: I spend most of my time at work with my fellow baristas, so they are almost like my family and NOC is almost like a second home. We are all very serious about what we do – we try to set time aside for an afterwork tasting/latte art session every two to three weeks, to make sure we are all improving in terms of coffee knowledge and barista skills. When we are not at work, we hang out and explore local coffee shops, eateries and bars together. The friendship and strong bond that we share definitely make us a better team, which I highly appreciate.
T: For me, NOC is the result of the hard work we put towards meeting, or even exceeding the high standards we set for ourselves as a team. From the ingredients we select for coffee and food, to the materials and textures in our spaces, and even down to our staff’s behaviour, every aspect of our customers’ experience has been thoughtfully considered. We believe our attention to detail shows, and we are dedicated to curating an unparalleled coffee experience of simplicity with substance, day in and day out.
Q. How do you take your coffee?
B: I really enjoy trying coffee from different origins and roasters, so I usually go for an espresso, a hot long black or a pourover – something that lets me taste the different notes of a coffee on its original state.
T: My go-to is a medium latte.
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